I decide to start the ride early, biking from Chelsea to our meeting place at Grand Army Plaza. I take the Manhattan Bridge, never my favorite because of its predictable bumps. But the advantage is that only trains travel there; the air is clean. There's also salsa if you're lucky.
This guy provides a happy, rhythmic soundtrack to my crossing.
We sail through the Park, making a quick pre-emptive pit stop…
At Avenue J, I have my first opportunity to be the Drop (signal person), and learn the importance of pulling over early to give riders the chance to move over for a left turn.
Eight miles later, we reach The Cyclone:
We've arrived in Luna Park.
They are impressive - I can't believe they to do this once a week!
Until the magic suddenly stops. Something is clunking against Lola's front tire. Is it serious? I don't know, but it's not going away and I can't ignore it. Suddenly I feel alone and vulnerable in a strange neighborhood. And this is the best reason for riding in groups - there's always someone who has your back. I pull up to the Drop who takes a quick look, grabs the sensor of my new cadence do-hickey and bends it back, correcting the problem instantly. It's an easy fix, but one I was too panicked to think of, and I'm grateful for his quick thinking. By the time the Sweep arrives I'm back on track. But I'm behind and there isn't really a line of people close enough to follow - something I count on when riding at night, especially in areas that are unfamiliar. Like what do I do in this situation?
We end our ride at the south side of Prospect Park (I think).
I arrive back feeling tired and exhilarated at the same time. It's hard to describe, but if there had been a group ready to meet me when I climbed up the subway steps, and they were going for a trip around the Central Park Loop…well, I probably would have joined them - just to prolong this ride.
That's the magic of a great ride. You just don't want it to end.
Here's our Route Map: